Category Archives: Military

A Soldier’s Christmas Wish

Let’s never forget those whose sacrifices make us free and able to celebrate and worship as we please in this holiday season as well as the rest of the year. Published in the Magic City Morning Star December 24, 2009, this work really captures the feeling.  Transcript is posted below the video.

This poem was written by an Australian Peacekeeping stationed overseas. His request, send this to as many people as you can.  Credit is due to all of the service men and women for our being able to celebrate Christmas.  Let’s try to pay a bit of what we owe to these heroes.

Soldier’s Christmas Wish

By Unknown Original Author
 
T’was the night before Christmas, He lived all alone
In a one bedroom house, made of plaster and stone.
 
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give,
And to see just who, in this home, did live.
 
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, Not even a tree.
 
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures, of far distant lands.
 
With medals and badges, Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought, came through my mind.
 
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
 
The soldier lay sleeping, Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor, in this one bedroom home.
 
The face was so gentle, the room in disorder,
Not how I pictured, (A United States) Soldier.
 
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
 
I realised the families, that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers, who were willing to fight.
 
Soon round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate, a bright Christmas day.
 
They all enjoyed freedom, Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
 
I couldn’t help wonder, How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
 
The very thought brought, a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees, and started to cry.
 
The soldier awakened, and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, This life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God, My country, my corps.”
 
The soldier rolled over, and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
 
I kept watch for hours, So silent and still,
And we both shivered, from the cold night’s chill.
 
I did not want to leave, on that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of honour, So willing to fight.
 
Then the soldier rolled over, With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “carry on Santa, It’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
 
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right.
“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all, a good night.”
 

(Thank you Herta for sending this to me.  God bless!)

F-35 Lightning II Update

Found a cool video catching up on some of the latter developments with the F-35 Lightning II.  Cool stuff.

And first video of the F-35 at Yuma.

And a few pictures to go with it.

f-35b flight line

f-35 takeoff

F-35 flyover

f-35 preps for takeoff

F-35 Joint-Strike-Fighter demonstration team

Warbirds – F-35B Lightning II

Time for another edition of Warbirds.  this time we have an exciting video from the sea trials aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) of the F35B Lightning II.  This beauty emerged from the Joint Strike Fighter program as the 5th generation multi-role fighter.  I am not normally a huge fan of jack-of-all trades aircraft, but it seems as if the detractors have been proven consistently wrong about this bird; in all but price at least.  Hopefully this made-in-America, next generation stealth fighter will perform as well as we all hope.

Her first flight was completed on December 15th, 2006.

f-35 lightning ii night flight

 

F-35B Lightning II in Thunderbirds colors

Thanksgiving For The Troops – Part 2 (Repost)

Earlier I did a brief post on thanking our veterans this season.  I thought I’d continue the theme today with our serving soldiers.

Lost and Found – October 17th Edition

What to remember about October 17th…

    • 1777  British surrender 5000 troops after losing 2nd Battle of Sarasota; French recognize American independence
    • 1781  British forces request ceasefire at Yorktown
    • 1814  Brewery flood of 300,000 gallons of beer destroys 2 homes and drowns 8 in London, England
    • 1835  Voters pass resolution establishing Texas Rangers
    • 1968  Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos are stripped of their medals for executing the black-power salute during medal awards ceremony
    • 1973  OPEC announces it is cutting oil exports to nations that assisted Israel during the Yom Kippur War; energy crisis
    • 1978  President Carter signs bill restoring citizenship of Confederate President Jefferson Davis
    • 1979  Law creating Department of Education is signed
    • 1989  Deadliest earthquake in 80 years strikes San Francisco as World Series is about to begin

Lost and Found – October 16th Edition

What to remember about October 16th…

    • 1773  Public sentiment against the Tea Act is voiced when Philadelphia Resolutions are published; leads to tea party
    • 1781  Cornwallis attempts to evacuate his troops from Yorktown but bad weather ends his hope of escape
    • 1859  Abolitionist John Brown leads a raid against a federal armory in an attempt to spark a slave revolt
    • 1916  Eugenicist and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger opens the 1st family planning clinic in America
    • 1946  10 convicted Nazi war criminals are hanged after the main trials conclude at Nuremberg
    • 1964  China detonates an atomic bomb; becomes the worlds 5th nuclear power
    • 1995  Million Man March is held in Washington, D.C.
    • 2004  Department of Veterans Affairs committee concludes “a substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multi-symptom conditions”

Warbirds – AH-1 Cobra ,Super Cobra, and Viper

Today’s installment of Warbirds brings us to the venerable AH-1 Cobra / Super Cobra / Viper.  This iconic helicopter saw its debut in Vietnam and still serves to this day.  The AH-1’s first flight took place on September 7th, 1965.

AH-1W wireframe

In the late 1950’s Bell Helicopter was committed to the US Army’s air cavalry concept.  With  the realization that the UH-1 “Hueys” were more vulnerable to North Vietnamese and even Viet Cong ground fire that first envisioned, it was decided that an armed escort was needed.  To fill this role some UH-1s were upgraded to carry multiple machine guns and rockets.  However, their light armor, slow speed, and open architecture meant that they were ill suited to close support and a would provide no permanent solution.

During the development of the “Huey”, Bell had begun work on designs for an attack helicopter.  The D-255 “Iroquois Warrior” was their concept mockup that led to the building of the “Sioux Scout” built on the Model 47 airframe.  It included many of the modern attack helicopter elements such as a tandem cockpit, weapons mounts on stub wings, and a chin mounted weapons system.  However, the underpowered and undersized nature of the scout was deemed to be unsuitable.  The Army decided to go with the Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS).  10 years and millions later, the spawn of the AAFSS, the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne was cancelled.

AH-1 Super Cobra weapons loadout

Despite not being chosen to compete for AAFSS, Bell went ahead with their development of a new attack helicopter based on many of the tried and true components in the UH-1.  With AAFSS development proving costly and slow, the Army announced that they were looking for quick development of an interim gunship.  Presented to the Army in 1965 as the Model 209, Bell’s prototype rolled out on September 3rd and was in the air just 4 days later.  Only 7 months later the AH-1G was selected over the other competitors – the  Boeing-Vertol ACH-47A, Kaman HH-2C Tomahawk, Piasecki 16H Pathfinder, and Sikorsky S-61.

With its own increasing use of helicopters, the Marine Corps was highly interested in adding a dedicated gunship to its growing fleet of support aircraft.  The Corps, however, determined that they needed increased reliability and firepower.  Out of these requirements Bell developed a twin-engine version designated the AH-1J.  Further upgrades were ordered for future Army models that would include better avionics, more powerful engines, and integration of the TOW weapons system for greater anti-tank capability.  These would lead to upgrades and designations of AH-1F, Q, and S.

Cobra Cap

Cobras of all sorts saw over a million operational hours during Vietnam.  They would also be used in the Invasion of Grenada, Operation Just Hope, and the Invasion of Panama.  By the 90’s, the Army began its transition from the Cobra to the newer AH-64 Apache.  Though being phased out, Cobras still played a vital role in the Gulf War, Somalia, and even some humanitarian operations.  the last Army AH-1 left service in March of 1999.

AH-1 Cobra from Marine Medium Tilitorotor Squadron (VMM) 161 on flight deck of San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23)

The Marine Corps was also interested in acquiring the Apache, but the request was denied by Congress.  It was felt that the cost of creating a ship-based version would be too costly and that the Marine Corps would be the only customer for such a specialized craft.  In response, a new wave of upgrades was applied to the fleet of Marine SeaCobras; turning them into SuperCobras.  models AH-1T, T+, and W would result in greater reliability, more power, integration of more advance avionics, and the capability to utilize AIM-9 Sidewinder and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

israeli cobras over masada

By the end of the 1990’s, another denial by Congress of the Marine Corps acquisition of Apaches led to a new development wave.  Today’s AH-1Z Viper is the result.  It features a new four-blade, composite rotor system for better battle damage tolerance, reduced noise, and increased flight characteristics.  Additionally, the Viper has longer stub wings with an increased payload capacity.  And, to fully take advantage of increased force integration and communication, a fully modernized suite of avionics and electronics was included.  With these upgrades, the venerable AH-1 has continued to fill a critical vital role in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.

ah-1z viper

Over 2500 AH-1 aircraft of various models have been built since 1965.  They have seen service on battlefields around the world and with the armed forces of the US, Iran, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Turkey.  Today you will even find retired Army Cobras working in the US Forest Service and the Florida Division of Forestry for fire monitoring and suppression.

Below you can enjoy a clip of Cobras and Vipers in action.

National Airborne Day

Don’t forget to hug a paratrooper today.  It’s National Airborne Day!

I was terrified of heights as a kid and I hated that feeling.  In Boy Scouts, I forced myself to learn to repel and rock climb to get rid of the fear; but it was still there.  So, when I joined the Army, I decided that to truly get rid of the fear I needed to volunteer for airborne duty.  I reported for training at Fort Benning and  3-weeks, a couple thousand push ups, and 5 jumps later I proudly graduated with my Airborne Wings. 

Funny thing is, I was still afraid of heights.  What I learned though was that the fear never goes away.  You just need to have faith to become strong enough to conquer what will aways be there.

This link will bring you to a collection of paratrooper and soldier prayers – many said or written on the eve of battle.  I hope that they can give you comfort and strength as they have so many of America’s brave defenders.  The one below is one of my favorites.

The ‘Lone Soldiers’ of the IDF

Taken from The Bookwork Room.  Go read the whole thing.

*****

Before this war, I’d never head the phrase “lone soldier,” although the concept is not new to me. A lone soldier is a person who does not live in Israel, but who travels to Israel to volunteer in her military as she fights for survival. Indeed, I knew an American who, in 1973, traveled to Israel and ended up being in one of the first tanks in the Golan. Nice guy and a very decent human being.

Currently almost 2,000 lone soldiers are serving in the IDF.

The fact that they are not Israelis has not kept these lone soldiers out of the fight. The grandson of Rite Aid’s founder was wounded, although thankfully this brave young man, who walked away from extraordinary riches into great danger, will recover. Sadly, neither Los Angeles native Max Steinberg, 24, and Texan Sean Carmeli, 21, will ever return home.

To die far away from home is a terrible thing, especially for the family and other loved ones left behind. The Israelis, fully cognizant of this tragedy, as well as grateful for the gift of people who donate their bravery, skills, energy, and heart to Israel, have hastened to repay the favor that Steinberg and Carmeli did for them:

With no family members nearby, there were concerns that the lone soldiers’ funerals wouldn’t be well attended, according to the Times of Israel. But 20,000 Israelis came to Carmeli’s funeral on Monday, and 30,000 attended Steinberg’s funeral Wednesday. Breitbart notes that the large attendance is especially remarkable considering that the constant threat of rocket attacks on Israel makes traveling and gathering in large crowds very risky.

There is something about dying with honor that is just incredibly heart-wrenching. I’m leaking tears all over my keyboard here.

(H/T to Ace of Spades HQ and the ONT)

Lost and Found – June 20th Edition

What to remember about June 20th…

  • 1782  After six years of debate Congress approves Great Seal
  • 1837  Queen Victoria ascends to British throne at age 18
  • 1863  West Virginia admitted to the Union as 35th state
  • 1892  Lizzie Borden acquitted of multiple murders
  • 1898  U.S. Navy seizes Guam during Spanish-American War
  • 1967  Muhammad Ali convicted for refusing the draft
  • 1980  Movie “The Blues Brothers” opens in the U.S.
  • 1994  O.J. Simpson pleads not guilty to murder of ex-wife and friend
  • 2001  Andrea Yates drowns her 5 children in a bathtub in Houston, Texas; found not guilty by reason of insanity July 26, 2006

Original Design of the Great Seal of the United States